Stressed Out? Check.
You might be busy now, but that’s better than being unemployed later.
By Jasmin Suknanan, Stony Brook University
The end is near, and it’s never felt more amazing.
At this point in the semester, all you can probably think about is how amazing it will feel to walk out of your last final, burn, er, I mean return, your textbooks and leave campus in your rearview mirror. It’s easy to get caught up in the three papers you have due in the same week, the exam you haven’t started studying for and the group projects that haunt your dreams. Just kidding. Dreaming requires sleep.
This semester is by far the busiest one I’ve ever had (so far, anyway). When I’m staying up late, pored over my laptop, I’m not thinking about visiting my former professor’s office hours to catch up (no offense to my former professor). I’m not thinking about the resume workshops at school, and I’m not thinking about what I can do to treat myself this weekend.
It’s easy to get caught up, and even feel strangled, by all the obligations college throws your way; you may feel like you have no time for anything but school work. Because of your full plate, you may miss out on some beneficial opportunities and activities. Aside from passing your classes and dancing on your textbook’s grave, here are seven things to do before the spring semester ends.
1. Network with Upperclassmen
Many people think that networking begins after you graduate college. On the contrary, networking begins as soon as you set foot on campus. Many students don’t take advantage of the valuable resources sitting in their 300-level class: upperclassmen.
Junior and senior students in your program are likely very knowledgeable about the remaining classes in your program, where to find internships, which professors can get you hook-ups and other helpful hints for survival. They were in your shoes not too long ago, and they probably made some mistakes that you don’t want to make.
Exchange phone numbers, email addresses, carrier pigeons—whatever. But, actually use their contact information. Don’t let their phone number sit in your phone. Text that graduating senior, and ask to meet for coffee after class. Ask the junior who interned at your dream company to look over your resume and cover letter. Connections are only good if you use them.
2. Explore Your Campus’ Neighborhood
How many times have you ventured into the streets surrounding your campus? If your homework assignments have you under lock and key, your answer is probably along the lines of, “Just once for Domino’s.”
If you aren’t a permanent resident of your college’s city or town, you likely won’t be back in the area after you finish school. Take advantage of your location, and look for some hidden gems the neighborhood has to offer.
Check out local event listings online to find something cool to do off-campus with friends. If you’re worried that there won’t be anything going on because you don’t attend college in a city environment, don’t worry, there’s always something going on, no matter where you are.
3. Apply for an Internship
This is the part where a lot of freshmen say, “But I’m a freshman. I have nothing on my resume.” Well, this is your chance to get something on there. Many students are afraid of the word “internship” because they picture having to do adult-y tasks in an adult-y environment and knowing adult-y things that, for some reason, they think they can’t learn through experience.
Don’t count yourself out just because you don’t know everything about the internship you’re interested in. Growth is a huge part of any position, and there’s plenty of room for it.
Head to your school’s career center to check out local positions for the summer. You can even bounce ideas off of your professors, and maybe they’ll point you in the direction of a former student who interned at a great company and had a good experience.
4. Make Business Cards
I love business cards. I always look extra impressive when I ask someone if I can leave my card with them. It’s a great way to be a little different from other students, and any professional you meet will definitely remember you as the 19-year-old with their own business cards.
One misconception about business cards is that you need to have some job or title to your name before you can have them. A business card shouldn’t show off the fact that you work at a certain place or hold a certain title; it’s merely used to provide an easy way for recipients to have all of your contact information in one place.
5. Attend a Campus Event You Wouldn’t Normally
One night last semester, I attended a campus pocket-theatre rendition of Shakespeare’s “As You Like It.” I’m not a theatre super-fan, and I didn’t exactly plan to go because of the gargantuan essay I had to write. But, my friends asked me to go last minute, and I thought, “What the heck, why not?” You can probably guess how much fun I had doing something different for a change.
You never know what interests you’ll spark when you venture out of your comfort zone. Don’t stick to the same routine or the same events over and over again. If you think you won’t enjoy an event, challenge yourself to try, and don’t forget to bring some friends along!
6. Ditch a Major You’re Unhappy With
Over the course of an academic year, I switched out of four majors that didn’t make me happy. Too often, students suffer through a program that isn’t right for them. Many think their peers will look down on them for wanting to pursue a different path, or even for not knowing what they want to pursue. At the end of the day, are you trying to make them happy, or are you trying to make yourself happy?
Promise yourself to finally be free of the major from hell. Speak to your program advisor, and look into other fields you may be interested in, so you can make adjustments to your class schedule before summer vacation begins.
7. Take a Headshot
Every time I turn around, I need a photo to go along with my bio for a website, or for a company profile. And, between you and me, I don’t have many professional options to choose from. I have one professionally taken headshot from a conference I attended, and in it, I have purple hair. Yes, purple hair. You never know when you’ll need to submit a high quality, professional photo of yourself, so make sure you have one ready.
You don’t need a fancy DSLR to take a headshot, but if your photographer bestie has one, feel free to exploit their skills. It would also be fun to have a headshot hour with your friends, where you all dress professionally and take each other’s photos. Not only will you be prepared for anything summer vacation throws at you, but you’ll also leave the semester feeling more fulfilled.